Achieve Beyond Boundaries Chartered Institute of Personnel Management of Nigeria (CIPM) Conference (15 OCTOBER 2014 – ABUJA, NIGERIA) By Babs Omotowa (MD/CEO, Nigeria LNG Limited) Babs Omotowa Currently • Managing Director/CEO, Nigeria LNG Limited • Vice President of Bonny Gas Transport Limited Protocol Good morning distinguished ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for the opportunity to speak at CIPM’s 46th yearly conference. I feel honored and privileged to be part of the ceremony, in a year that the Institute is commencing the licensing of Human Resources practitioners. This marks the culmination of the training and development of HR practitioners, which differentiates the professional from quacks or impostors! I rejoice with every member of CIPM in the achievement of this milestone. In a changing world of business enterprise, where people agenda are as important to the CEO as the bottom line, it is indeed a critical step to provide the assurance that organizations demand from HR. I have had the opportunity to take a look at the CIPM website to understand the conditions for issuance of this license. Your website is filled with outstanding prescriptions and solutions for several of the key issues of the profession. So your license is a permit to practice as well as an endorsement of your worthiness. I would like to congratulate CIPM’s leadership under the President, Mr. Victor Famuyibo for the accomplishments thus far. You have given the profession a worthy gift. With my background as a former college teacher, I could not but be delighted with the various training programs taking place in Abuja, Port Harcourt and Lagos, and the national essay competition for university and polytechnic students. Your efforts also in contributing to the ongoing dialogue on Nigeria’s potential for economic revival as embodied in the theme of your annual conference this year “Switch On” is also quite commendable. You are indeed taking giant strides! The Nigerian Promise The choice of “Achieve beyond Boundaries” as the sub-theme of this plenary session can never be more apt than now, at a time that it has become imperative to renew hope in the Nigerian Promise. Occasions such as this provides the platform for critical thinking on how to unleash Nigeria’s locked potential for sustained and rapid socio-economic development that will take it to its rightful place in the comity of nations. It also provides the opportunity to dispel some of the myths that has become our limits in realising the Nigerian dream. Some of these myths which you may be familiar with are: Nothing works in Nigeria; we make great plans but lack the ability to execute; Nigerians lacks self-control, discipline, foresight, the power of organisation, apprehension and ability to visualise the future as peddled by Lord Lugard in the early 1900s. All of these myths, which appear as a mirage, may have become a psychological boundary to achievements in Nigeria. Some of the myths about Nigeria as a country can be debilitating; and the challenging business environment is even more daunting. However, the hope of outstanding business success in our dear country can be very inspiring when buffeted by the promise of huge natural resources and untapped potential that the country holds. The motivation to break off from these self-destructive myths derives from the promise that Nigeria holds with its huge and untapped potential. There are abundant resources in natural minerals, huge arable land for agriculture, excellent weather and a huge population of about 170 million The economic fundamentals are strong as evidenced by the rebased GDP that puts Nigeria as the largest economy in Africa and the 26th in the world. Such is the enormous promise that Nigeria holds. In spite of the abundant potential and enormous promise that Nigeria holds, there have been fundamental challenges preventing us from maximising this potentials and rise like the giant phoenix. The 2014 “Doing Business” Survey Report of the World Bank ranked Nigeria 147th out of 189 countries assessed on its ease of doing business index. This reflects the realities and certain boundaries that businesses would need to push through to be successful in Nigeria. Key among these challenges includes poor power supply, poor transport infrastructures as well as overlapping legislations, aggressive regulators seemingly more focused towards rent collection, etc. Shortage of electricity is one of the biggest challenges for business in Nigeria; our power stations generate just 4GW of electricity, which is quite meagre compared to a national need of over 40GW. Transport bottlenecks make supply chain unstable and erratic. Above all, the rules of the game for business can change quickly and thus have grave uncertainties in creating an enabling environment to attract investments, technology and people. Also despite our population of 160 million people, with a high proportion of young citizens and a fast growing economy, we are still widely seen as oil producing country rather than for example a talent producing country. We are seen as a huge market of 160 million consumers unlike China that is seen as a factory of one billion producers. We do not have enough of quality manpower for the areas of the economy where they are most required. So looking at all of these, I am unhappy that despite our huge potentials and being ranked the biggest economy in Africa, our citizens are not getting the best that they deserve. NLNG- The Opportunity However, there is a bright side to our story, but before I go into sharing that story, let me first set the context in which I share our story. This is important because we are at a period just before electioneering starts, a time when politicians trumpet all manners of achievements in a drive to get elected to various offices. Sadly it is a time also of propaganda and outrageous claims. I had therefore asked myself whether this is a time to discuss achievements so one does not get tarred with the same brush. I reflected on this and came to the conclusion that the risk is worth taking, after all a gathering of human resources practitioners! And yes, there is a place for sharing stories of extraordinary accomplishments, which is done every day to inspire people. The United Arab Emirate a few years ago held a TED conference at Dubai titled ReBoot. ReBoot was all about stories, small and big to inspire people to believe that everything is achievable when driven by shared passion and love for greater good. In 2012, a “Dream Dare Do” convention was held in India, where stories of real life heroes and driven individuals in areas as entrepreneurship, sports, arts, etc was held, as organizers believed that meaningful change can be brought about through the power of dreams. This power coupled with the indomitable spirit of dare and do leads to a change which can transform lives. Morocco staged its own conference in 2013 titled Powers of Dreams with the thinking that we shouldn’t shy away from inspiring ourselves and our nation with good stories, worthy examples, so long as we understand that it is only through the crucible of the innovation, creativity and hard work, and the sacrifice of compatriots, that we can rebuild countries and aim for greater heights. So here we go with our story: I am proud to share with you, one of the inspiring examples of a Nigerian success story – the Nigeria LNG Limited – an embodiment of achievement beyond boundaries. I mean beyond boundaries of the Nigerian myths, beyond the boundaries of challenging Nigerian business environment, and beyond the limits of Nigeria’s hugely untapped potential. Nigeria LNG Limited (NLNG) was incorporated in 1989 to help end gas flaring and also monetize Nigeria's vast natural gas resources. It is owned by 4 shareholders, the Federal Government of Nigeria, through NNPC (49%); Shell (25.6%); Total (15%) and Eni (10.4%). The company has two wholly–owned subsidiaries: Bonny Gas Transport (BGT) Limited and NLNG Ship Management Limited (NSML). In the 1950s, the discovery of Crude Oil in Nigeria led also to inadvertently discovering gas, which was seen as a waste product at that time as there was no market or infrastructure for it. It is estimated that the amount flared initially was 2.5 bcf/d, i.e. 75% of produced gas and the rest were re-injected into the wells. NLNG has since then converted over 4.2 Tcf (trillion cubic feet) of Associated Gas (AG) that would have been flared to LNG and NGL exports, thus helping to reduce gas flaring by Upstream Companies to less than 25% and generating over $30billion that would have been flared, a real outstanding achievement. Nigeria has reaped significant benefit from NLNG in terms of its 49% dividend, 30% CIT, Feedgas Purchases, etc. To give you a perspective, the Company’s income tax payment this year represented about 5% of the total revenue projections of the government for 2014. The Race Putting together an LNG value chain anywhere in the world is a major challenge. From finding the gas, selling it, funding, constructing, operating the plant and shipping to customers are no easy feats. Launching a project of this complex dimension in a business environment like Nigeria would even be more difficult if not near impossible and many critics initially believed that the NLNG project would not get past the starting line; others thought that even if we passed the starting line, we could not finish on time and within budget, or even if built, the Plant would not be operated to international standards. The basis of the reservations are understandable mostly when situated in the context that it was in 1965 that the Bonny Gas Company was put in place to liquefy and export Nigeria's gas reserves. This project remained in an idea mode for about 35 years wallowing in a wilderness of none starts, half starts, and false starts in a country that was then a pariah to the world. The changing political climate in the country during these periods fuelled serious concerns about ownership structure, management control, funding and financing, and market assurance issues that held the establishment of the Company moribund until 1989. As we were changing our name and shareholders in a bid to address these issues, windows of opportunity to build LNG plants to monetize the country’s huge gas reserves came and went elsewhere as other countries, especially in Europe (i.e., North Sea), Indonesia, Malaysia, Qatar and Algeria, got to the global market earlier than we did. Upon incorporation in 1989, the final investment decision (FID) for the base project was taken in 1995 and construction commenced in 1996. By 2008, 6 LNG Trains were constructed and put into operations with a name plate capacity of 23 million Metric Tonnes Per Annum (MTPA) of LNG, thereby supplying 8% of global LNG market. This growth between 1996 and 2008 earned NLNG the record of the fastest-growing LNG project in the world, a remarkable feat i.e., taking LNG production from zero to 23 mtpa in world record time. This unprecedented achievement is consistent with our vision to achieve world class performance and help to build a better Nigeria. Performance and Broken Boundaries Nigeria LNG Limited has de-mystified the various malignant myths about doing business in Nigeria as it has delivered world class sterling performance within its 15 years of operation. I crave your indulgence to highlight just a few of the results that have earned Nigeria LNG Limited a place in the list of companies that have achieved beyond boundaries in Nigeria. We ended the year 2013 as the second best in the world among thirteen LNG peer sites on overall operational efficiency index. Today, Nigeria LNG Limited operates its six-train plant at a best-in-class reliability of 97% quite above a world-class top quartile reliability of 95%. We have also grown from an annual cargo count of 5 per annum in 1999 to over 300 cargoes per annum, pushing the boundaries of internal capacities year on year. On HSE, we have a strong commitment to the health and safety of all personnel in our worksites. As complex as the operations of the LNG plant is, and through a competence and stringent hearts and mind programme, we recently completed over 20 million man-hours of work without any lost time injuries, a record only very few companies in the world can boast about. We have also grown from a 4 billion dollar per annum company to one of over 10 billion dollar company in fifteen years favourably comparing with the turnover of many companies in the 2013 FSTE 100 list. An investment of $7.5 billion dollar has now yielded revenue of 85 billion dollars to date and we now have a $13billion asset base, the 4th largest LNG plant in the world. In addition, we are the single largest ship owner in Nigeria with 24 LNG carrier ships. Importantly, we are known by our customers as a reliable plant, apart from a period last year where we were obstructed by a regulator and the periods of bunkering in previous years. We have transited from a second-option standby LNG supplier within the Atlantic Basin to a reliable global supplier beyond the Atlantic basin in Europe and Asia. Today, we are sought after by customers in South America, Asia, Europe, a truly outstanding achievement for a Nigerian Company. NLNG’s business has strong impact on key macroeconomic variables - NLNG’s contribution to the GDP has consistently increased to 4% in 2008. In addition, we currently supply over 80% of cooking gas (LPG) in Nigeria and recently increased our dedicated volumes by 67% and are prepared to increase by 1000% to get more Nigerians to switch to cooking gas rather than continue to use fire wood and Kerosene, alternatives that have environmental and health disadvantages. We are also a good tenant at Bonny, an Island with a population of 250,000. It is one of the few town in Nigeria that enjoys 24hrs electricity supply, pipe borne water, roads, hospitals, vocation centres, just to mention a few. An integrated partnership approach has enabled uninterrupted operations over the years. In the area of Nigerian Content, we are also a leader as can be seen in our recent contract with Samsung and Hyundai in South Korea to build 6 new ships. We used that opportunity to have 600 Nigerians trained in ship building with 200 of them in South Korea. We also have been able to ensure Nigeria goods and services will be used in the construction work by working with local contractors. With this initiative, Kabelmetal has for example being able to achieve historic exports of $1m cables exported to South Korea and more cables, paints, furniture, etc will follow soon from other companies. I am proud of this. The Fundamentals So many may ask the question, why has NLNG achieved all these? Before I answer these, permit me to first recognise the genius of the founding fathers of the company and my predecessors who found the courage to set its compass aright. I mean those who recalibrated its shareholding, who wrote the comfort decree, who provided money in escrow accounts that allowed this project to take off and who granted it pioneer and tax exemption status. Without their courage, dedication, industry and foresight, we perhaps would not be here today talking about a company that has achieved beyond boundaries. So back to the question on: Why? The essentials of NLNG’s success are not entirely any different from that of any great company in the world but permit me to share a few (1) Stability (2) Structure (3) Partnership (4) Excellence (5) Financial Capability Stability: Uncertainty in regulatory policies is a big challenge for businesses. The enactment of the NLNG Act in 1990 and the Assurance letters from the then Minister of Finance, Central Bank Governor and Attorney General in 2002 provided clear legal framework, stabilisation and incentive for the Company to finance its construction to the tune of several billions of dollars. This initial stability in fiscals and regulatory framework also enable smooth operation. The company has therefore been able to operate with strong business principles on merit, ethics, global governance and compliance standards. These have provided the foundation on which have been built strong Code of Conduct, Anti-Bribery and Corruption and Conflict of Interest policies, all of which are essential bedrock for world class performance. Structure: The incorporation of the company as a private company and an independent joint venture also provided the protection from excessive interferences from bureaucrats. This has differentiated it from the upstream joint ventures and has enabled it to perform to world class standards. Its independent Board is empowered and takes decisions without having to go through bureaucratic structures and as such the speed of decision making is consistent with world class organisation. The combination of the Nigeria shareholder and the International shareholder representatives in the Board provides an excellent framework to achieve both objectives of helping to build a better Nigeria and achieving world class standards. This creates a healthy tension in the Board which has ensured robustness over the years in the decisions at the Board. Therefore transparency, merit based and competitiveness are what are prevailing in every sphere of the company, which enables the best interest of the company and the country, and not the interest of individuals. Partnership: At the heart of our success over the years is the long term technical partnership we have enjoyed from our shareholders which has enabled us transfer huge knowledge. We have leveraged on diverse global expertise and have been able to send Nigeria staff on assignments to other plants in the world to gain experience and we have also brought experts to the plant to help coach and train our staff. Through a structured competence assurance and knowledge transfer mechanism articulated in our Nigerianization strategy, we have seen the Nigerianization of our workforce from 50% in 2007 to about 95% to date with also a 100% Management Team. This has been complemented with the continuous recruitment of highly competent Nigerians graduates. We have maintained a technical agreement with the original technical partners of the project and this remains key in maintaining the integrity and reliability of our plants and in carrying out the regular maintenance necessary. Excellence: Operational Excellence for us is across our Production, Asset and Safety. We operate, maintain and manage our assets in such a manner that we can sustainably produce to our buyers safely, reliably and profitably. Key to our drive for world class performance in NLNG is embedding a culture of continuous improvement by: (1) Promoting global best practices in processes and systems (2) Regular performance benchmarking (3) Learning from Incidents. We also drive cost leadership through disciplined control frameworks and use of ERP systems. A strong budget discipline and cost monitoring through appropriate tender boards ensures that we continue to benchmark our costs globally and also leverage on our shareholders to achieve global deals. Financial Capacity: Being a Company with a track record of performance and a strong balance sheet, we are able to attract financing for our activities relatively easily and at very low cost as was demonstrated in our recent $1.5billion financing for the construction of our 6 ships. So we have no funding constraints. No doubt our ownership structure continues to offer us favourable access to financing which we have leveraged on for better project economics and ultimately better value to all our customers. The Challenge Having achieved beyond these boundaries, we cannot rest on our oars and so we continue to look at the future which we currently see as laden with challenges. As more LNG projects come on stream, new sources of gas are discovered, with our plant starting to age and a growing complex business environment, the future headwinds are strong. We are therefore already looking at our strategies to achieve even beyond these boundaries as the window of opportunities closes. There have been many much more successful companies that have gone out of circulation and many in this room will remember Enron, Arthur Andersen, or even locally Oceanic Bank, etc. So we are analysing the global trends including Shale Gas competition, new Mega LNG Plants in Australia and East Africa threats to our business. For example the technological improvements to Shale gas extraction has doubled the world reserves in LNG and in the US has led them from changing from an importer to a likely exporter and Henry Hub gas prices has fallen by more than 85% from $15/mmbtu in 2005 to less than $4.50/mmbtu today. These global challenges are not made easy by the local challenges from the uncertainties of policy changes, delayed passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), gas developments for domestic use, sustaining feed gas supply, ageing plants and ships, and continued tension between a Nigerian culture and a World-Class culture. So we are already looking at what we need to do differently from growing our volumes by the addition of a 7th train so we can compete with volume in the global market and use that to offset any reduced prices. Train 7 will allow us add eight million metric tonnes or 40% to our current production capacity. It will enable us attract over $12billion investments, create over 18,000 construction jobs and yield additional $2.5 billion revenues. The reality is that having come to the end of our tax holiday period, about 70% of value generated in NLNG today goes to the Government and people of Nigeria. So a Train 7 is a big value to Nigeria and together with shareholders we are continuing to work on this. With the changing business environment, we will also be making changes to our company culture and as such we have embarked on a culture alignment journey to drive even more organizational efficiency and continuous improvement. We will for example be developing more leadership capabilities for us to have more true leaders not by authority but by role modelling. We will be moving into a more integrated company, increased empowerment, open communication, coaching and development, etc What is needed? So what is required from key stakeholders to sustain the required results? I will just share with you my thoughts on two of those stakeholders: CEO: In today’s global business environment, success is driven by the talent, vision and leadership capabilities of the CEO. Some of the critical dimensions of the essential leadership capabilities will include but not limited to relationship management, strategic direction, delivery/excellence and culture. In a business environment like Nigeria, it is important that the CEO informally builds relationships with key stakeholders through proactive and transparent interactions that allow him or her not only to share information and gather input but also to develop strong “professional chemistry” with all stakeholders namely, shareholders, government, regulators, etc. This ensures that he or she maintains a strict “no surprises” policy with all stakeholders and that he is fully and effortlessly transparent on the implications and risks of strategic decisions. He or She must also lead the building of a culture in the organisation that will enable the company remain sustainable. He or she must also have the strength of moral character and trusted on ethics as a role model. In Nigeria, that can be especially hard with the prevailing culture being one where the expectation is that with such a high position, expectation is for one to act with impunity. This expectation is not just from officials but also from families, relatives, friends, acquaintances, etc. This is a challenging part for us Nigerians, as though we all espouse we want the country to be better, but we are too concerned about ourselves and even at the detriment of integrity, it is a culture we must change. HR: Historically, the personnel manager was deemed to be effective if he manages well the monetary levers of human resources i.e. compensation, benefits, and other expenses, and if he implements discipline and maintains good industrial relations with unions and workers. He or She sometimes got trapped in a policing role, mediating employee grievances, monitoring compliance with employment laws, and enforcing codes of conduct. HR function then was seen more of helping workers overcome deficiencies that hinder their performance. That era is past and the time has come of extending the hand of fellowship across the function to seek achievement beyond boundaries. World class HR functions are transforming and becoming truly strategic where the bottom-line is important, partnering with the business, automating a lot of traditional HR activities, ensuring cost effective hiring of top talent, realization of productivity, etc. With outsourcing of the management of benefits and compensation and of unskilled and semi-skilled workforce, comes the opportunity for across board collaboration and achievement beyond boundaries. This calls for a new HR Function and with it a new kind of HR professional, one who deeply understands not only talentmanagement processes but also an organization’s strategy and business mode. Forward-looking companies now have HR function as become both catalyst and facilitator of mechanisms that foster creativity across organizational boundaries. HR Functions must develop the capacity to hatch and harvest ideas. Final Thoughts Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, NLNG’s historic achievements, experience and its Joint Venture model provides the inspirational opportunity to push the boundaries in other sectors of the economy namely, telecoms, power, agriculture, banking, real estate, mining and many others. Investment in these sectors based on similar fundamentals as NLNG will benefit the economy; create more World Class companies, wealth and attractive job opportunities. In this regard, NLNG is not relenting in its quest for world class top quartile performance which will ensure it continues to generate significant value for Nigeria to address the capital and infrastructural challenges and create wealth and job opportunities. I would like to conclude with the key message that without courage, dedication, industry and foresight, it can be more challenging to achieve beyond boundaries. As individuals, as HR professionals, etc, we need to build a critical mass of people and organisations who will continuously achieve beyond boundaries in their ‘little space’ based on these principles and in no distant future, Nigeria will indeed be able to rise like a giant phoenix and take its rightful place in the comity of nations as projected. Thank you for listening!
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